Sternberg & Dietrich R2

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htdm
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Sternberg & Dietrich R2

#1 Post by htdm » Sun Sep 18, 2005 9:30 pm

A poster over at Home Theater Forum wrote that www.DVDforums.com just announced that Universal is releasing the following titles in France on December 6:

Morocco (1930)
Dishonored (1931)
Shanghai Express (1932)
Blonde Venus (1932)
Song of Songs (1933)
Scarlet Empress (1934)
The Devil Is a Woman (1935)
Seven Sinners (1940)
Flame of New Orleans (1941)
Pittsburgh (1942)
Golden Earrings (1947)
A Foreign Affair (1948)

The titles are all up at DVD.fr but no word on the specs yet.

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david hare
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#2 Post by david hare » Sun Sep 18, 2005 9:50 pm

Holy shit batman!!!

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htdm
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#3 Post by htdm » Sun Sep 18, 2005 10:01 pm

flixyflox wrote:Holy shit batman!
Couldn't have said it better myself, Flixy (although I think my first reaction was there goes the kid's college fund...).
Let's hope they do the films right.

I'm particularly excited about Dishonored and have never seen Mamoulian's Song of Songs.

Now if someone would just release Sternberg's Crime and Punishment...

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david hare
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#4 Post by david hare » Sun Sep 18, 2005 11:23 pm

Send the kids out to work!
Morocco has been virtually impossible to see in a clean detailed print for years - no, decades -. I am pinning some hope on the German DVD just released and due next week. The others all frequently screen in Paris arthouses and some of the titles have always looked gorgeous (Blonde Venus for instance.) However Shanghai Express in its last video incarnation (LD in mid nineties) suffered a big cut in a dialogue scene between Dietrich, Warner Oland and Emile Chautard - this was presumably occasioned by the intervention of some sort of French agency as it relates to the honor of the French Military.

Of course you realize don't you as soon as we've bought some of these Universal will release another single dvd18 or two with five titles each at 18 bucks. Must say I am not personallyl interested in nonsense like the Mamoulian and the George Marshal, Rene Clair titles. Although I do have a particular fondness for the ludicrously amusing Garden of Allah (already released elsewhere in fabbo Technicolor.) Not only do we get the first of Tilly Losch's only two screen appearances in dance but such sublime dialogue as:

Mother Superior: "You must go into the desert my child"...
Marlene: "Why the desert, mother?"
MS: "because there you will find peace among the stillnesses my child ...."
M: "Yes. mother."

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#5 Post by viciousliar » Mon Sep 19, 2005 5:21 am

Several people have e-mailed me offlist to tell me how much you'll be missed, Flixy. Of course it's all up to you, but please don't let stubborn pride rob us from your treasure chest about the classics...you are such an asset to this group, and you know that!!
Last edited by viciousliar on Fri Oct 14, 2005 6:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

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david hare
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#6 Post by david hare » Mon Sep 19, 2005 7:10 am

You KNOW I've given them up... at least the kind you put in your mouth,,, I mean...

more dialogue from Garden of Allah:

Dietrich spying Trappist-monk-on-the-lam Charles Boyer at authentic Morrocan Norch Joint being taunted by the irresistible Tilly Losch exotic dancer:

M:
"Why is she doing THAT?"
Chaperone Joseph Shildkraut:''"Why she want's MONEY madame.."
M : "You must tell him then!"

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reaky
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#7 Post by reaky » Mon Sep 19, 2005 1:17 pm

What is Universal France's track record in subtitling like? Are French subs likely to be removable or not?

And Flixy, I'd appreciate word on the quality of your German Morocco disc when you get it.

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david hare
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#8 Post by david hare » Mon Sep 19, 2005 7:18 pm

Will do - just got another order from Frankfurt three days earlier so hope for this week.
Re subs. Considering Wildside licenced at least three of its titles from Unviersal - Letter from an UNknown Woman, Caught and Secret Beyond the Door - you're probably right to think these discs might have "fixed" (but rippable) subs. We'll see.

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GringoTex
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#9 Post by GringoTex » Mon Sep 19, 2005 8:30 pm

I was under the impression that just about all of Sternberg's 30s films were in serious need of restoration/cleaning. Has Universal done this or these going to be crap transfers?

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david hare
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#10 Post by david hare » Mon Sep 19, 2005 10:06 pm

How do you arrive at that proposition? Certainly theatrical prints available in France of all bar Morocco are very good. Simialrly the 95 US LD of Blonde Venus is absolutely mint and Shanghai Express not at all bad. The two weakest prints in the US evidenced from home video are Morocco and Scarlet Empress, but even these would respond to cosmetic treatment. And Matt (or Martha?) made mention in another thread months ago that Unviersal were working on new prints.

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ben d banana
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#11 Post by ben d banana » Mon Sep 19, 2005 10:34 pm

The Dietrichs looked good at the American Cinematheque this year. All or most are UCLA restorations, are they not? Check it out.
Over this three-decade span, the studio boasted an enormous diversity of talent and style including work by an impressive range of Hollywood masters. Ernst Lubitsch, Billy Wilder, Preston Sturges, Josef von Sternberg and Rouben Mamoulian among others, directed sophisticated comedies of manners and contemporary dramas, while Cecil B. DeMille crafted his famed monumental epics. The studio discovered and promoted stars as diverse as Gary Cooper, Marlene Dietrich, Claudette Colbert, Maurice Chevalier, Mae West and George Raft... The Paramount collection housed at UCLA comprises more than 800 feature films, most of which are from the studio's "Golden Age."... Some of the films from the Paramount collection which have been preserved and restored by the Archive include: THE WILD PARTY (l929, Dorothy Arzner); MOROCCO (l930, Josef von Sternberg); THE VIRGINIAN (l929, Victor Fleming); THE SCOUNDREL (l935, Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur); REMEMBER THE NIGHT (l940, Mitchell Leisen); HIGH, WIDE AND HANDSOME (l937, Rouben Mamoulian); THE MOON'S OUR HOME (l936, William A.Seiter); ROAD TO UTOPIA (l945, Hal Walker); GLORIFYING THE AMERICAN GIRL (l929, Millard Webb).
Morocco seemed a bit soft, but otherwise wonderful. I thought the deal with Scarlet Empress was that Universal gave Criterion a lesser print than the very nice UCLA restoration.

Crime And Punishment looked a bit rough, if I recall correctly, at the same series, however it is indeed terrific. The Shanghai Gesture appeared to be the roughest of the lot, and I believe caught me at my most exhausted.

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david hare
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#12 Post by david hare » Mon Sep 19, 2005 11:51 pm

The print used for the 90s VHS and subsequent Criterion Scarlet Empress is the same one and is very poor. There are better 35mm prints floating around Australia and the UK. I don't know if this title has undergone restoration in the US.

Crime and Punishment was a Columbia title. The 90s VHS had a very good quality image. There are also VHS versions of the very minor Sgt Madden and The King Steps Out - but these are both absolutely routine assignments for Sternberg. Alas Shanghai Gesture which is a terrific movie remains in the clutches of the awful Raymond Rohauer. God knows where anyone can find a good source for this. The TV and French Ed Montparnasse prints for Macao are quite good (the ABC Australia print actually superior to the French disc) and like all those early 50s RKO Technicolor movies produced by Hughes the cold war/ camp Jet Pilot looks stunning (but really only a footnote to Sternberg's career.)

And on another plane the two Paramount silents Docks of New York and Last Command were pretty good. (Can you imagine fucking PARAMOUNT ever releasing a silent tile under its own label??? CHEEZES!!!!)

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ben d banana
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#13 Post by ben d banana » Tue Sep 20, 2005 12:22 am

The bargain Jet Pilot DVD looks nice on my old timey, and soon to be replaced, CRT TV, but it's not anamorphic. A fun movie for sure, and the campiness is clearly intentional.

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david hare
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#14 Post by david hare » Tue Sep 20, 2005 12:53 am

Have they reframed it for widescreen on the DVD? I still have the LD which is full frame.

This is one of those Hughes/RKO era movies that the old man re-released in a "phony" widescreen format called "Superscope." To cut a long story short, it was completed in pre-widescreen 1950 but sat on the shelf (like so many Hughes pictures) for seven years while he tinkered (read "Chopped") and added aerial footage etc, finally issueing it in 1957 when widescreen was becoming common. Thus the slightly cropped, then squeezed and anamorphically reprojected version in Superscope was sometimes shown thereafter but it is definitevely a 1.37/1.33 movie. You will notice in comparing the two the heads in CU are somewhat cropped.

(Afterthought - some RKO movies after 1953, notably the two last American Langs While the City Sleeps and Beyond a Reasonable Doubt WERE released in a widescreen format (1.85) but were intended to be, having been shot open matte for the purpose.)

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#15 Post by ben d banana » Tue Sep 20, 2005 1:47 am

1.85. Looks like it may be OOP now, but still cheap. The Amazon reviews by jet geeks are pretty amusingly negative, but this gent points out the same info about the aspect ratio as Flixy,
For cinema/home theatre buffs, note that because 'Jet Pilot' was made in 1950, it was NOT filmed NOR framed for widescreen, so for its 1957 release it would have been illegitimately cropped at the top and bottom to achieve a widescreen effect during theatrical projection. The DVD letterbox bands simulate this effect, but the authentic video framing should be 1.33:1, which corresponds to the full 1.37:1 Academy frame used in production.
Sadly, I don't imagine holding my breath waiting for a proper 1.33 reissue will net any positive results, for me anyway.

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htdm
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#16 Post by htdm » Tue Sep 20, 2005 1:49 am

flixyflox wrote:The two Paramount silents Docks of New York and Last Command were pretty good. (Can you imagine fucking PARAMOUNT ever releasing a silent tile under its own label??? CHEEZES!!!!)


I also liked Thunderbolt quite a bit though it feels a bit more uneven overall than his earlier work. I thought the non-talking sequences in prison were especially effective.

I wish Paramount would at least release the titles that it put out on VHS in the 90s... I seem to remember reading somewhere (a Warner's chat at HTF maybe?) that Wings was being restored for a DVD release. Someone correct me if I'm hallucinating.

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#17 Post by david hare » Tue Sep 20, 2005 4:04 am

dmkb I wish we had everything - I am relying on a shitty bootleg print of Thunderbolt ex VHS and I think it needs both an audible soundtrack and a decent print to get me convinced (considering how amazing both Morocco and Blue Angel are as sound films - Thunderbolt seems to creak in every direction frankly.) I have a slightly less shitty bootleg of Underworld (ex 16mm via a Japanese LD from 1993) There are better bootlegs of Salvation Hunters around (MGM) but - having seen them all in 35mm nitrates at or from MOMA a lifetime ago - I just wish.. and wish... (believe me this not a JO but a lament.

Seems to my memory the last great Sternberg period of rediscovery was late 60s around the time of his wonderful autobiography, the beginnings of Sarris book and HIS American politique des auteurs, and of course the whole late 60s thing. I even remember watching MOMA's sublime nitrate print of Docks of New York ignite for about two seconds during projection in Sydney in 1968 - you know the look? the print stops dead, curls up and morphs into a myriad of curling colors while the audience stops breathless and you hear a pin drop. THe fuckwit projectionist went on to become a director of "some" reputation in the (still) nascent Oz cinema..)

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#18 Post by david hare » Tue Sep 20, 2005 7:58 pm

Very quick post on the German Morocco. It looks very nice indeed - clean, nicely detailed. The print is not highly contrasted (it never was) but things like the lattice work and shadow are very well rendered, and I think this is a DVD9 progressive. Will give a fuller report tonight after I've watched the movie through. VERY happy!

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#19 Post by leo goldsmith » Wed Sep 21, 2005 12:28 am

Just want to pipe in and say that any new Sternberg on dvd makes me extremely happy. Morocco is an absurdly excellent film and it needs to be seen by everyone immediately. An effeminate Gary Cooper, people. Investigate!

I could, of course, make orisons to the dvd gods about Underworld, Docks of New York, Blonde Venus, and, just slightly above all, Anatahan, but who knows if they would hear me? But I do think that another critical revival is long overdue.

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reaky
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#20 Post by reaky » Wed Sep 21, 2005 2:10 am

Flixy, would you say the Morocco DVD is a significant improvement on the Universal VHS, with its Vaseline look?

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#21 Post by david hare » Wed Sep 21, 2005 4:23 am

I am just starting to come down from the ecstasy that follows a good viewing of a great Sternberg film. And this may be his greatest film.

Please ask me about this tomorrow.

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david hare
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#22 Post by david hare » Wed Sep 21, 2005 4:40 am

reaky
frankly I always liked the LD but the german dvd is better. Generally cleaner, sharper (a bit) and more detailed - for instance you can see M flick the cigarette away at the beginning of Quand L'amour se meurt, and the vertical shards of light in the ARab praying scenes again become impressionist - Mind some brief shots (not many but M's first song, e.g.) look to have been patched in. But then later the CUs of Cooper and M are so nicely grained you are reminded that they were THE most beautiful human beings to ever walk the face of the earth. I am still staggered by the film, and the reticence, and the taste and the unbelievable use of sound at the end over the Paramount mountain. I hate to sound like, umm ott, but I just found myself weeping from some sort of state of rapture - this is such a total masterpiece. (I also have my own personal proustian things with it - the last time I saw it theatrically certainly in no better a print - a younger man I was trying to shake off twenty years ago when I was a extremely callow (he 20 me 30 )somehow hung around for the screening of Morocco I was waiting for, and then fell in love with me for a couple of years. He died a few years after that, far too young...)

Christ Im not even drunk...

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reaky
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#23 Post by reaky » Wed Sep 21, 2005 5:32 am

You've sold it to me, Flixy, to put it mildly.

Interestingly, French Dietrich discs aside, did you know that the BBFC passed Blonde Venus (alone of the Dietrich/Sternbergs) in July? I wonder what form that will crop up in? I'm guessing it'll be something Cary Grant-orientated rather than Dietrich, as it would seem an odd one to put out on its own.

In the light of the debacle with these recent batches of Universal DVD-18s (neither my Lugosi nor Hammer sets managed to play through, and forums indicate that I'm far from alone on this), I would rather where possible source these films on any format but a six-films-on-one-flipper cheapo. I suspect this is what Universal are planning, at least in R1.

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david hare
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#24 Post by david hare » Wed Sep 21, 2005 6:44 am

Reaky, non, je suis pas meme Anglais (et bien sur pas un connaisant de l'office de le BBFC. En tous cas il'n'y avais pas ete un circonstance comparable en Oz chez OLFC..)

Haven't had a problem either with the Cooper collection or the splendid Bela I disc box set (which is well worth it) I dont' give a flying fuck where the Sternberg discs come from as long as they keep coming. (Also note the German disc carries a full blown Universal logo - as does the terrific Hitch Blackmail disc in the same delivery which is also clearly identified as Universal/Studio Canal - this from Kinowelt/Arthaus.) I do feel Sternberg's reputation and status are still revered in two countries - France and Japan, thus my great hopes for the forthcoming French discs.

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Subbuteo
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#25 Post by Subbuteo » Fri Sep 23, 2005 5:51 pm

I've succumbed and ordered the German 'Morocco' disc. All on the strength of Flixy's rants and raves and 'wonderful posts'
If I don't like it Flix you are an official tart OK :wink:

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